My Three Favorite Places to Get Free Guitar Sheet Music
Guitarists are cheap: we try to avoid spending money on things where ever possible. Except for that new guitar, of course.
So when it comes to sheet music, we try to find the free options first. Sometimes this means finding a facsimile or getting someone’s arrangement. Either way, if the piece you’re looking for is in the public domain, it’s probably online.
Here are some places to start your search.
1. The Boije Collection
The Boije Collection is hosted by the Music Library of Sweden. It’s an entirely digitized (PDFs) of the late 19C century insurance salesman Carl Oscar Boije af Gennäs. After Boije died, his collection of printed editions and manuscripts was donated to the library.
This is my go to place to find any 19C guitar piece I’m working on.
2. The Classical Guitar School
The Guitar School (formerly “The Guitar School of Iceland”) is run by Eythor Thorlaksson and his son, Sveinn.
Unlike the Boije Collection, the pieces at Classical Guitar School are created by the Thorlakssons. They aren’t facsimiles or manuscripts. Most of the pieces here are your run of the mill standards: the typical concert pieces that get a lot of concert time.
3. The International Music Score Library Project
IMSLP is the most ambitious music digitization project online. It’s home to thousands of composers and (maybe) millions of scores.
There is a fair amount of guitar music here, but it’s usually my last stop to find guitar music. The system is a bit cumbersome, but you can find some real gems on IMSLP.
Thanks for the tip. I’ve used Eythorsson a lot, but didn’t know about the others. Regards, @brismith66
I use Eythorsson, and freescores, have to check out Boje and the IMSLP. Some of the Eythorsson pieces are different than the “standards”. For instance La Maja de Goya is in E instead of D. But they are all PDF’s and easily readable. Freescores often has a score, but it may be in really bad shape. For instance I got Valses Poeticos from there. It was obviously a scan of an older manuscript, the pages were out of order, and several were missing. But then again it is free and you get what you pay for.
scribd.com is a good one also.
I can think of two other sites; delcamp (http://www.delcamp.us) and Thomas König’s (http://www.thomaskoenigs.de/)
Delcamp has many pdf scores by Mr. Delcamp and a section for scores by the members. You must join (free) and post a certain number of messages for access which isn’t all that difficult. Some people are upset at the rigid enforcement of copyright laws and the forum rules and what can sometimes seem to be heavy-handed moderators, but these keep the forum from degenerating into something like rec.music.classical.guitar.
Thomas König’s site has a free section of mostly the old war horses. The transcriptions are by König and can be quite useful.
I personally like to have several versions or transcriptions of a piece just to see how the original transcriber thinks.
If you are into creating your own transcriptions of public domain pieces (Albeniz, Granados, Bach, Renaissance, etc) you can usually find the original via a search. If you live in a place like Washington, DC the Library of Congress has things like the Folger Dowland Archive. Many universities also have good libraries wherein lie many gems.
The Mutopia Project, http://www.mutopiaproject.org/ is also not too bad. It’s all free.
Some composers also offer free scores on their websites. All my guitar scores are free.